At the close of
trading today, another 25% of News Corp will be removed from the
Australian index, leaving just one more 25% tranche to go before the
world’s most global media company is gone from the ASX indices forever.

To soften the blow of Australian institutional selling, Rupert has
announced a buyback. It’s a very open ended affair as News Corp has two
years to spend up to $4 billion
and Rupert can choose to soak up voting and non-voting shares as he
sees fit over
that time frame.

Given that negotiations over a peace deal with Liberty Media appear to
have stalled, Rupert can now play a game of cat and mouse with John
Malone, using company funds to buy back stock and manipulate the share
price as it suits him.

Rupert didn’t waste any time wading into the market as on the first day
of the buyback News Corp spent $57 million on non-voting shares and $35
million on voting shares. This increases the relative positions of both
Rupert and Liberty Media and a full $4 billion buyback of voting shares
would see them control close to 60% of the company between them.

The buyback helped lift the voting stock 27c yesterday and a further 32c this
morning to a three month high of $23.17. News Corp’s notorious
poison pill prevents John Malone from buying any more voting stock and
he did pounce last time there was some weakness associated with the staged ASX
deweighting.

However, Malone could pounce on some more non-voting stock but the buyback
announcement has helped send them 19c higher yesterday and a further 27c to $22.06 this morning.

Meanwhile, Rupert is keeping himself busy in London, delivering the
last rites to Fleet St yesterday at a church service called by Reuters
to mark its departure from the famous strip as you can see here.

And Derryn Hinch may be persona non grata in Australian media circles
these days but the Human Headline is apparently interviewing Rupert at
Wapping next week for a new book he’s writing. Will Rupert personally
get to sack Derryn from his Sunday Herald Sun column? We doubt it.

Rupert can’t stay in London for long as he’s got to be back in New York
for his first American shareholders meeting on June 30 to approve a
lucrative new executive share plan so he can issue stock to his top
brass in a way similar to what his Australian shareholders rejected in
2003.

Crikey is in the market for a proxy so if anyone is available to be at
the New York Hilton (1335 Avenue of the Americas) at 10am to fire off
some questions, please email [email protected]